Helping Small Chicago Arts Groups Obtain City Licenses
January 12, 2007 | Press Release | Culture, Equity, and the Arts in Chicago

MacArthur is creating a $660,000 fund to help small arts organizations in Chicago obtain the city’s Performing Arts Venue (PAV) license.  In order to receive the PAV license, required for most venues with fewer than 500 seats, a facility must meet all building and fire codes.  Many small theater companies lack the funds necessary to carry out code-related improvement projects required for licensing. 

“We have heard from small arts organizations across Chicago that the availability and affordability of space is a major concern,” said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation.  “This fund will not only allow organizations to upgrade and license their facilities, but will also improve the comfort and safety of their staff and audiences.”

The MacArthur Fund for Performing Arts Venue Licensing will be administered by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.  The Fund will support –

  • Retaining experienced architects and consultants to navigate the complicated system of obtaining building permits as well as the design and construction process; and
  • Undertaking small renovations and repairs to meet building code requirements. 

Up to 20 organizations with budgets of less than $500,000 will be eligible for $5,000 grants that will fund an architect or contractor to perform on-site inspections, review inspectors’ reports, and provide required architectural drawings.  Many of these grant recipients will then be eligible for grants of up to $25,000 to obtain permits and undertake construction necessary to apply for a license.  About 150 arts organizations are eligible initially, including all current and recent grantees of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation’s Small Theater & Dance Funding Program and the MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at both the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Prince Charitable Trusts.  

“The MacArthur Foundation listened and responded to the needs of the community.  Funds for infrastructure and capital are hard to raise, and this fund will be a vital resource for the City's arts venues,” said Sunny Fischer, Executive Director of The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. 

The idea for creating the new Fund came out of discussions with the League of Chicago Theaters and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and conversations with representatives of Chicago arts and culture groups organized by the MacArthur Foundation over the past year.  

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